a geography of rain*


In Chiloquin barely an inch fell
on fog draped cedars of the Siskiyou mountains,
Twice that at Red Mound
on the Oregon coast.
At Sawyers Bar
on the Salmon River, half an inch
dampened the remnant saw mill and graves of gold miners
in the old Catholic cemetary.
An inch and a half on the Trinity River,
homeland of the mighty Hupa,
on huckleberry and silver-leafed manzanita
where, after a nine-day journey among cougar, owl and coyote, Nish-Fang became a woman of her tribe.
Nearly a finger-length of rain at Honeydew
where the Mad, Van Duzen, Eel and Mattole rivers
rush through the dark corridors of redwood and sequoia.
A teacupful fell in Sand Flat
high in the Shasta Lake watershed,
Only a thimble’s worth at Devils Garden
on the flanks of pioneer farm stock,
bred for work but wild now, grazing sagebrush plateaus
and bitterbrush groves.
Half an inch watered Cottonwood Creek,
tributary of the great Sacramento,
and on the farmlands of the Great Central Valley.
Torrents filled the Feather River
in the northern Sierra,
and nearly three inches fell at Four Trees,
two at Humbug, De Sabla, and Grizzly Ridge.
Raindrops joined with snow melt
in the cascades of the Yuba and American rivers
hurtling down to Grass Valley, Sugar Pine and Hough Springs.
In the orchards and farm fields of Woodland,
Walnut Grove and Citrus Heights, a gentle downfall
plinked on corrugated shed roofs and stacked irrigation pipes
in empty tracts of brown

everything depends upon

* the italicised place-names are locations of official hydrology/meteorology data collection stations of the National Weather Service

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